"In April, Silver Spring management consultant Yvonne Braxton stopped driving her 1989 Acura Legend on trips to Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. The standard 37.5 cents per mile government reimbursement -- a figure set for 2004 long before gas prices began soaring -- didn't come close to covering her costs anymore."
Yvonne, Yvonne, let's do the math. $.375/mile * 23 miles/gallon = $8.625/gallon you're getting reimbursed! That'll more than cover your gas costs.
Wait a minute, you might say...why is the government standard reimbursing at such a high rate? Well, the fact is that gas costs are not the major cost of owning a car. Every mile Yvonne drives her car is a mile closer to having to buy a new car, and also a mile closer to needing more maintenance. On the other hand, given that Yvonne is driving a 1989 Acura, she has chosen a very reliable and durable car and chosen to keep it a long time...minimizing her costs compared to someone who buys a new car every 3 or 5 years.
It's possible that her total cost for operating the car exceeds $0.375/mile...if the car is starting to break down a lot and require expensive repairs, for example. In that case, however, the change in fuel prices she says she needs -- to $1.50/gallon, or a drop of about $0.60 -- wouldn't significantly effect the total expenses, and wouldn't help if the current situation is that she isn't "close to covering her costs."
Having driven Hondas, I know that getting reimbursed at the government rate can be a pretty good deal. I still sometimes get work to rent a car for me...if I don't want to push my car past the next maintenance threshold, or if I want Christina to be able to take over the driving (since I still haven't gotten around to teaching her how to drive a stick shift). But I don't use bad math to blame it on gas costs.